I have not been back to a movie theater since March 2020. I miss it a lot. Before the pandemic, going to the movies was basically my number one activity - I'd be at the theater at least once a week, and usually more than that. I'd plan my weekend around the schedules for the movies showing at The Roxy Theater, the AMC Dine-In, and the AMC 12, figuring out what the best course of action was to see everything I needed to see.

And then, like most other things thanks to COVID, it was just gone. The Roxy remains shut down for the time being, but the two local AMC theaters reopened at the end of August. They are part of the roughly 40% of theaters in the country that are actually open right now. And I really want to go back, but it just didn't feel like the right time yet - partially due to caution because of COVID, and partially because there's just not that many new movies coming out. No studio wants to release new movies when most of the theaters in the country are shut down, and there's no guarantee an audience will feel safe coming back right away, either.

But hopefully, with the vaccine getting distributed to more and more people over the coming months, the theatrical industry can get back to business in the semi-near future. It's been a scary time for most of the major theater chains, with many publicly saying they might not be able to survive the pandemic. Luckily for us here in Missoula, AMC has just announced that they've been getting new investors and have raised over $900 million to take them through most of 2021.

Will that be enough? We've seen another wave of delays by the major studios, with movies like No Time To DieGhostbusters: Afterlife, and A Quiet Place Part II rescheduled once again, this time for Fall 2021. Meanwhile, Warner Bros is putting all of their movies in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously, which includes titles like Godzilla Vs. KongThe Suicide Squad, and The Matrix 4. And now Disney has a renewed focus on the small screen thanks to the launch of Disney+, with several Star Wars and Marvel projects currently in the works for the streaming service.

I hope there's still a place for the movie theater post-pandemic, and I think there will be. Sitting on your couch and playing on your phone while you watch something is no match for experiencing a movie on the big screen. The investment is good news for AMC, and it will hopefully allow them to keep both of their Missoula theaters running. And fingers crossed that the vaccine gets distributed quick enough that I can get it before March 25th, so I can watch Godzilla and King Kong beat the heck out of each other on the biggest screen possible, the way it was meant to be seen.

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